Karen Kemp



+64 9 920 6466

+64 27 209 0775


Karen Kemp is an experienced commercial litigator, with specialist expertise in construction and infrastructure disputes. Karen advises national and international clients and consortiums on significant projects across New Zealand, partnering with them to provide smart, strategic advice and practical risk and dispute management solutions.

Karen is an appointed Adjudicator on the Construction Panel with AMINZ (Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of NZ), determining disputes under the Construction Contracts Act, a position that recognises her expertise and seniority in the sector.

An expert in a wide range of construction claims and disputes, including under NZ Standard Forms, complex PPP structures and NEC contracts, Karen is trusted for her practical and deep technical knowledge of the sector. She acts for construction and infrastructure clients (including contractors, principals and subcontractors), and for companies and individuals in general litigation. She regularly acts on complex adjudications and arbitrations, also appearing as counsel in the High Court, District Court and Tribunals.

“In over 30 years in the construction industry, I have worked with a significant number of law firms and lawyers and without doubt I consider Anthony Harper and Karen Kemp as one of the most client focussed and articulate lawyers I have worked with… Karen will fight the fight, but is also not afraid to give clients advice they may not want to hear. But this advice will be presented with options and strategies to ensure the client is fully informed and able to make an informed decision.” – Andrew Millard, Millard Construction Cost Consultants Limited

“Karen is an all-round excellent lawyer. Her practical and technical knowledge of the construction sector, combined with her smart legal advice and sound risk assessment, add real commercial value to our projects and business.”

Karen is recognised internationally for her expertise, ranked in the Chambers Asia-Pacific Legal Guide 2023-2024 for construction, named as a construction expert by Best Lawyers (2021-present), and recommended in the latest Doyles Guide (2021) for construction and infrastructure litigation.

Recognised by her peers as being an expert in her field, Karen has been invited to speak at the Society for Construction Law Conference, the Building and Construction Regulation and Law Conference and the Women in Law Summit. She attended the invitation only Senior Leaders’ Retreat held by Infrastructure New Zealand in June 2022.

Karen was a founding member of the National Advisory Board for the Women in Infrastructure Network (WIN) and a previous member of the Auckland Chapter of NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction). She has recently been accepted as an Associate of the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand (AMINZ).

Key Transactions

Lead Counsel:

  • Successfully defending the NZLR reported case of KME Services NZ Pty Ltd v CPB Contractors Pty Ltd [2021] NZHC 212; [2021] 2 NZLR 315.
  • Successfully setting aside a construction-based statutory demand in the case of Templeton Kingsland v Dominion [2021] NZHC 2960.
Key Projects:
  • Dunedin Hospital Outpatients Building project – $1.47 billion build
  • Central Plains Water Irrigation – the largest irrigation project in New Zealand
  • Ara Tūhono Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway – a road of national significance completed in 2023
  • Significant Christchurch rebuild projects – Te Pae Convention Centre, Christchurch Hospital, Tūranga Library
  • Seascape – set to be New Zealand’s tallest residential tower
  • Queenstown Airport Terminal expansion project
  • CPB Contractors Pty Limited
  • Cook Brothers Construction Limited
  • Fletcher Acciona CJV
  • KiwiRail
  • Rooney Group Limited
  • Shundi Customs Limited
  • Southbase Construction Limited
  • Templeton Kingsland Limited
  • The Fletcher Construction Company


  • Chambers and Partners, Construction, Ranked Band 3, 2023-2024
  • Asia Pacific Legal 500, Real Estate & Construction, Recommended Lawyer, 2017-2024
  • Best Lawyers, Construction Expert, 2021-present
  • New Zealand Doyle's Guide, Construction, Projects & Infrastructure, Recommended Lawyer, 2021


  • Bachelor of Arts, (Hons), University of Cambridge
  • Master of Arts, University of Cambridge
  • Common Professional Exam (UK)
  • Legal Practice Course – Law Professionals (UK)
  • Associate, Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand

Admission to the Bar

  • England and Wales, 1994
  • New Zealand, 1998

Professional Memberships

  • Infrastructure New Zealand, Member
  • Women in Infrastructure Network New Zealand, formerly on National Advisory Board
  • National Association of Women in Construction, Member
  • Society of Construction Law